Planners want your two cents

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

Construction of the city’s comprehensive masterplan is proceeding into the art and design categories with public sessions next week, while sessions on the  transportation category, or MOVEPGH, have been taking place this week.move1

Today in Oakland a handful of people showed up to learn about the input so far and to add their own. (Most of them are in the photo at right.) Another opportunity comes this evening from 6 to 8p at the Brashear Association, 2005 Sarah St., Southside.

The goal of MOVEPGH is to create a more complete and integrated transportation plan to relieve congestion based on projections that the Pittsburgh area’s population will incrtease by 100,000 people in the next 25 years.

Paul Moore, a transportation planner who is consulting with the city on the MOVE plan, said that strategies to avoid increased congestion are to plan housing and job options closer together and increase the desirability of transit and bicycling by adding premium transit services, such as rapid bus loops and bicycle-only traffic lanes.

“Pittsburgh has [per capita] more people who walk to work than any other city over 25,000,” he said. “That’s great, and bicycle use is growing exponentially.”

But we could be doing so much better. Only 15 percent of the people in the city live within a half mile of a good transit option.

Jeff Olson, a consultant on bicycle infrastructure, said Pittsburgh is “a bronze level bicycle-friendly city. The city is doing great work but when do we want to get to the next level?”

Washington, D.C., Boston and New York are at the silver level. To get there, we would need to make much better connections by increasing our current 20 miles of vike lanes and 30 miles of shared lane markings.

At the gold level, he said, “every fourth grader is getting a bicycling education and every person is learning to share the road.”

Considering a budget of $270 million — the amount the city gets from local, state and federal sources — the planners and consultants devised two scenarios, one to keep doing what we’re doing: creating new suburban land use and spending mostly on roads and bridges for motor vehicles; or two, to make bike and transit infraastructure and urban development the priorities.

That scenario could tip the numbers of expected newcomers to prefer the city to the suburbs and would reduce congestion.

To do better than our current funding levels, the consultants and planners have thrown out new revenue possibilities that include transit district financing, increased parking taxes and surcharges, impact fees and grants.

On Monday, ARTPGH and DESIGNPGH is launched with a talk by Jon Rubin, a Pittsburgh artist who will be leading outreach for the plan, and Barbara Goldstein, a public art consultant from San Jose, Cal.

That event is at 6p in Doherty Hall, room 2210, at Carnegie Mellon University.For more details, click here.

Six meetings throughout the city will give everyone a chance to weigh in. They are:
Tuesday from 6 to 8p at the Brookline Carnegie Library, 708 Brookline Blvd. Public transportation: Bus 39 and 41, Blue Line (T)
... and from 6 to 8p at the Kaufmann Center @ The Hill House, 1825 Centre Avenue. Public transportation: Bus 81, 82, and 83

Wednesday, 6 to 8p at the Brashear Association, 2005 Sarah St., Southside Public Transportation: Bus: 48, 51, 54, 75, 81 and 83
... and 6 to 8p at the Schenley Ice Rink, 1 Overlook Drive

Thursday, 6 to 8p at the Kingsley Association, 6435 Frankstown Ave., Larimer. Public Transportation: Bus: 74, 77, 82, 86, and 89
... and the Children’s Museum, 10 Children’s Way, Allegheny Center.  Public Transportation: Bus: 1, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 2, 4, 54, 6, 7, and 8

This explanation about that part of the plan comes from City Planning:

“ARTPGH will create a strategy for the City to engage local, regional and national artists, facilitate care for its extensive art collection, and involve artists in public space, facility and infrastructure design. DESIGNPGH will examine existing types of urban design and devise a plan with set guidelines that will inform future developers about the quality and character of design that is expected and feasible in our neighborhoods. The lead consultant for ARTPGH and DESIGNPGH is Urban Design Associates (UDA), headquartered in Pittsburgh."

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